Here Lucky goes to Memphis. Several years into a solo career, the former blues whiz kid plays good keyboards and guitar, and sings stirringly on originals and covers from all over the black music map (Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Les McCann & Eddie Harris, blues piano master Roosevelt Sykes, etc.) His modern soul-cum-blues is hot, sweaty, and aggressive, and he gets the job done in busy arrangements shared with the Memphis Horns, honey-throated back-up singers, and muscular hired guns like bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Crusher Green. Peterson had the good sense to collaborate with New Yorker Jim Payne when writing five songs for the album, including the killer slow blues instrumental that doubles as the album title.
John Pizzarelli takes his nifty little act over to the folks at Telarc, and in fact, little has changed at all; if anything, the act has gotten better. The good news is that Pizzarelli shows continued improvement as a vocalist; the nasal, callow, youthful sound slowly gives way to a less naive, more rhythmically hip style in the manner of early Nat Cole. Pizzarelli was a fine, versatile guitarist from the start, and he continues to astonish at lightning tempos here. His airtight longtime trio (brother Martin Pizzarelli on bass, Ray Kennedy on piano) keeps right up, switching tempos on a dime…
Verve's Master Edition of the Oscar Peterson Trio date released as Night Train includes stately covers of blues and R&B standards like "The Honeydripper," "C-Jam Blues," "Georgia on My Mind," "Bags' Groove," "Moten Swing," and "Things Ain't What They Used to Be." Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen provide tight accompaniment, and there are six previously unavailable tracks recorded the same day, including "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" and "Volare," as well as alternate takes of "Happy-Go-Lucky Local" and "Moten Swing."
Classical violinist Itzhak Perlman is not a jazz improviser, so this meeting with the Oscar Peterson Quartet is more a loving tribute to the melodies (ten veteran standards plus two Peterson originals) than a strong jazz date. While Perlman sticks closely to the themes, one's attention focuses much more on Peterson, who had suffered a serious stroke a few years earlier and had been inactive ever since. Peterson sounds healthy in his supportive role, and although it is doubtful if he sweat much during this relaxed music, his apparent comeback is great news. Guitarist Herb Ellis has the most rewarding solos, although his spots are short.